On Wednesday, another gubernatorial candidate forum was held in Corpus Christi and attended by gubernatorial challengers including former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West, media personality Chad Prather, and former State Senator Don Huffines. 

The candidates discussed their stances on issues such as election integrity, the Texas economy, GOP priorities, and more. 

On the matter of election integrity, Prather began by asking the audience, “How many of you feel like your elections are secure?” 

The audience voiced their lack of confidence in the elections system, and Prather responded with a promise. “As governor, I suggest that we need a secretary of state who believes in election integrity, who [is] willing to dump the voter rolls [and] make everyone in Texas now so that they have to go re-register to vote.” 

Prather has several suggestions for improving election integrity, including removing the voting computer systems, instituting mandatory surveillance, utilizing more poll watchers, requiring voter identification, strengthening the penalties for illegal voting, and having a single election day rather than a voting season. 

“[Voting] is a precious right and privilege, and we’ve got to protect it,” said Prather.

“Having confidence in our elections is a foundation for our constitutional republic,” said Huffines. 

Huffines illustrated what election integrity would look like under his administration. “I’m creating a law enforcement division out of the Department of Public Safety, and we’re gonna move a lot of those offices into it. We’re gonna move some Texas Rangers into it. … They’re very competent. They’re very good. It’s called [the] Government Corruption Election Integrity Division, and that’s all they’re gonna work on,” promised Huffines. “They’re gonna follow the ballots. They’re gonna know where the machines are.” 

According to Huffines, each county will not only have an office of the Government Corruption Election Integrity Division, but they will also move to paper ballots. Third-party forensic auditing will be used when needed, and if a county has a questionable election, the county will be subject to another judicial system to avoid any conflicts of interest within the county’s court system. 

“The key here is enforcing election law and putting people in jail,” said Huffines. 

West said that after deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan in order to facilitate free and fair elections, it was “absolutely appalling” to see that we do not have free and fair elections in the United States. “Really, it’s disrespectful, and it’s disgusting,” West added. 

“We have to hold people accountable. There [have] to be consequences. … All we need to do is uphold the laws that we have on the book,” West said before taking shots at Gov. Abbott for extending early voting and allowing 24/7 voting and curbside voting in Harris County. 

“Republicans have to stop bringing a plastic spoon to a gunfight when we’re talking about election integrity,” declared West. 

West referenced the new Senate Bill 1, which changed election fraud from a felony to a misdemeanor, before stating, “We need to go back again to the rule of law to make sure we are doing things in the right way. We have to protect the ballot.” 

Candidates were then asked about their plans to help the Texas economy, as the coronavirus pandemic and the Biden administration have inhibited growth.

“Texas is a wealthy state. The problem is, we [apologize] for the things that made us wealthy. Not the least of which is the fact that we are a global leader when it comes to energy. Oil and gas is quite literally our bread and butter here in this state. Oil and gas has made us very wealthy. But yet, we know that the globalists and the climate-science cultists want to take that away,” said Prather, citing statistics regarding the abundance of oil, gas, and coal produced in Texas. 

Prather wants to stop subsidizing and bailing out green energy when it fails and focus instead on the oil and gas energy that has made Texas wealthy in the first place. 

“We sit on top of more fossil fuels than any other place on the globe,” declared Prather, scorning Biden’s request to OPEC for more oil while he shut down the pipeline that contributed to the path of making the U.S. energy independent. 

“One thing the state of Texas can do, specifically,” said Huffines, “is restructure the land fund.” The land fund provides private loans for developers of commercial land, including land with oil and gas. 

Federal mandates are another issue, according to Huffines. “The state of Texas generally enforces most of the federal mandates. The federal government doesn’t come down here and enforce the EPA’s laws. They rely on the state of Texas to do that. The Clean Water Act—they rely on the state of Texas to do that enforcement. Well, guess what? Maybe we just don’t return their phone call after a while. Maybe we just ignore what they want. Maybe we decide what’s best for the state of Texas, what’s best for our oil and gas industry. We are the energy capital of the world. Every energy company in the world relocates to Houston, Texas. This is who we are. This is the backbone of our economy.” 

Huffines disparaged Abbott’s choice of subsidizing green energy while the lights and heat went out across Texas during last February’s winter storm. Huffines called fossil fuels a blessing and championed their return. 

“There are three pillars to security. There’s economic security, there’s energy security, there’s national security,” declared West. “When you think about your energy security tied to your economic and your national security, the reason why the United States of America was energy independent was because of Texas. They leased our power of our oil and gas industry,” said West. 

West went on to state that no executive order had the right to shut down a private-sector industry. “Maybe you can do that in some other states, but you’re not gonna do that in the state of Texas.”

West called for an end to green energy subsidies, claiming reliance on green energy is a pipe dream and we should never depend on it for 23-26 percent of our energy. 

The Republican Party of Texas and its voters determine several legislative priorities for each legislative session, and priorities are often ignored by the elected officials expected to implement them. Prather, Huffines, and West discussed their plans to ensure Republican priorities are their own priorities.

“The governor gets done what the governor wants done,” Prather began. “Greg Abbott’s never gotten anything done.”

“The people have the power. You determine the priorities,” said Prather. Prather proposed requiring constitutional amendments be approved by three-fourths of Texas’ counties in order to ensure that what passes in Austin are not just priorities of large counties, but also the smaller counties in Texas. 

Huffines expressed his devotion to the Texas Republican party platform, explaining that as a national delegate in 2008, he shipped 2,500 copies of the platform to Cleveland so the nation could see the strength of the Texas Republican party platform.  

“It’s the reason I ran,” declared Huffines, going on to discuss how the governor and Republicans in the Legislature ignore and belittle the platform. “In a Huffines administration, this is my agenda,” said Huffines, waving a copy of the platform.

West began by referencing a Newsweek article that called Florida “the new Texas,” stating, “People don’t believe that Texas is the conservative constitutional state that we believe it is.”

As former GOP chairman, West said that the “R” next to a name is starting to mean less, and he called for more constitutional conservatives to run and fight for the people of Texas. West promised that the priorities of the Republican Party of Texas will be his priorities in the address given before the 88th Legislative Session in 2023. 

The full video can be found here

Election Day for the Republican primary is March 1. Early voting begins on February 14.

Sydnie Henry

A born and bred Texan, Sydnie serves as the Managing Editor for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Patrick Henry College with a B.A. in Government and is utilizing her research and writing skills to spread truth to Texans.